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Wages and Employment in a Random Social Network with Arbitrary Degree Distribution

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  • Yannis Ioannides
  • Adriaan Soetevent

Abstract

This discussion paper resulted in an article in the 'American Economic Review' (2006). Volume 96, issue 2, pages 270-274. Empirical studies of labor markets show that social contacts are an important source of job-related information [Ioannides and Loury (2004)]. At the same time, wage differences among workers may be explained only in part by differences in individual background characteristics. Such findings motivate our model in which differences in "social connectedness" among otherwise identical workers result in wage inequality and differences in unemployment rates. The paper is related to theoretical contributions by Calvo- Armengol and Jackson (2004) and Calvo-Armengol and Zenou (2005) and builds on the Pissarides (2000) model. Workers may hear about job openings directly from employers or through their social contacts. We go further by introducing heterogeneity in the number of contacts each worker has with others, i.e. in the workers' degree. We utilize results from the technical literature on random graphs with arbitrary degree distributions [Newman, (2003a)] to account for a consequence of workers' receiving information about job openings from their social contacts: they compete with their social contacts' other contacts. For social networks with arbitrary degree distributions we show that people who are better connected receive a higher wage on average and face a lower unemployment rate. Numerical computations for the specific case in which connections follow a Poisson distribution show that variability in connections can result in substantial variation in the above labor market outcomes.
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Suggested Citation

  • Yannis Ioannides & Adriaan Soetevent, 2006. "Wages and Employment in a Random Social Network with Arbitrary Degree Distribution," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0601, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  • Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0601
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Calvo-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2005. "Job matching, social network and word-of-mouth communication," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 500-522, May.
    2. Fontaine, François, 2008. "Why are similar workers paid differently? the role of social networks," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 3960-3977, December.
    3. Kenneth J. Arrow & Ron Borzekowski, 2004. "Limited network connections and the distribution of wages," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-41, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Mortensen, D. T. & Vishwanath, T., 1995. "Personal contacts and earnings: It is who you know!," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 103-104, March.
    5. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 426-454, June.
    6. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
    7. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2004. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects, and Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1056-1093, December.
    8. Samuel Bentolila & Claudio Michelacci & Javier Suarez, 2010. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 20-45, January.
    9. Samuel Bentolila & Claudio Michelacci & Javier Suarez, 2010. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 20-45, 01.
    10. Scott A. Boorman, 1975. "A Combinatorial Optimization Model for Transmission of Job Information through Contact Networks," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 6(1), pages 216-249, Spring.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    job search; social networks; arbitrary degree distribution; wage inequality; incidence of unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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